Fulbright Scholar teaches in Indonesia

Emma Sutton ’09 always wanted to know more about people who were different from her neighbors. Growing up in a Caucasian, Irish Catholic neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, Sutton said she never had contact with people from other races. But her mother, a Chicago police officer, did.

“My mother is very opinionated,” she said. “so I was automatically driven to investigate for myself if the things she said were true.”

And investigate she did. Sutton’s quest to learn about others eventually brought her to Greece, Turkey, the British Virgin Islands, and to Tanzania. This August, she will begin a nine-month assistantship in Indonesia teaching English as a Fulbright Scholar.

In her studies abroad, Sutton learned about “different” people—about ways of living and thinking that were nothing like those she experienced in Catholic grade school and high school. “You need to have some background about people to communicate with them when you don’t have the same personal experiences.” She believes her studies abroad and the Fulbright program will help her better connect as a nurse and teacher to people around the world.

After she completes the Fulbright program, Sutton plans to become a nurse and work with underserved populations in the U.S. Her long-term goal is to work internationally in areas confronting poverty, war, and natural disaster.

Sutton came to Augsburg for two reasons—to play volleyball and to study science. She was interested in attending a Division III school because she wanted to participate in a sport and have time to focus on academics. Augsburg gave her not only the opportunity to play volleyball for three years but to study biology and chemistry on campus and abroad.

Last fall, she spent a semester on the island of Zanzibar studying coastal ecology and conducting research on the biodiversity of fish in the Nyange reef. She spent hours under water, identifying species and learning how the fishing industry has affected the reef.

As a first-generation college student, Sutton said the Fulbright application process was challenging but rewarding. “It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.” Between a full class schedule and working part time as the peer advisor for Augsburg Abroad, she met with Dixie Shafer, director of Augsburg’s Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity program, to write and revise her application essay.

“It forced me to articulate what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” she said. “At the end, I was proud. I told myself it was a great exercise even if I didn’t get the scholarship.”